Sunday, May 15, 2011

The End is Near

This class has been one of the more difficult classes I have ever taken. It was definitely a challenge for me to not give up just because I didn't understand everything. I am proud of myself and feel that I have learned a great deal!

Analysis # 7

Langston Hughes in “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” talks about how there is a conflict in the African American artist community to act white yet also be true themselves.   In a disturbing conversation between Hughes and a young poet, the poet says "I want to be a poet--not a Negro poet," meaning, I believe, "I want to write like a white poet"; meaning subconsciously, "I would like to be a white poet"; meaning behind that, "I would like to be white." Langston Hughes says, “no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself”  (1192).  I agree with this, but also there is the promise of success that in some cases one sacrifices who they are for monetary gain.
This reminded me of the “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air”, a popular television show when I was growing up. The show is about a wealthy African American family living in Bel-Air, and their nephew from Philadelphia that has to adjust to his new life. Will Smith’s character is more connected to his African American roots, yet he is taught to behave “less black” in order to gain acceptance into the wealthy, predominantly white society. Carlton is the opposite of Will and fits in and often times gives Will lessons on how to behave. This show is a comedy so often times not looked at for what it is, an encouragement for people to “melt into” the dominant society.  It can be argued that “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” gained its popularity because it tells the story of a black man adjusting to a white society. Had it been the story of Will’s character growing up in Philadelphia, would the show have been as successful?
Hughes is attempting to tell people to be themselves and create out of what they know. In the scene below Will and Carlton get pulled over because they are driving a Mercedes and “look suspicious. This is a valuable lesson to Carlton as it opens his eyes past the white society he has grown up in and introduces him to the harsher realities of the world.

Works Cited

"Carlton Learns about Discrimination." Youtube. Web. 15 May 2011.

Hughes, Langston. "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain". ed. Leitch, Vincent B.      The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Anaylsis # 6- Gender Studies

Susan Bordo in “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity” discusses how “they body- what we eat, how we dress, the daily rituals through which we attend to the body is a medium of culture” (2240). Our society today functions through what Bordo calls the “norms of cultural life” (2240) Whether it is television, magazines, or movies society is telling us how we should look, what we should like, and how we should behave.
I agree with Bordo greatly when she sees that “it is difficult to avoid the recognition that the contemporary preoccupation with appearance, which still reflects woman far more powerfully than men… may function as a backlash phenomenon” (2241).  Eating disorders run rampant in our society. The pressure on woman to be powerful yet also fit the mold of femininity becomes a struggle for many. This is shown in many movies where there is a female superhero.  What is she wearing? The answer is close to nothing, because in our society in order for a female to be powerful she must also be sexy.
“The Voice” is a new reality show that has celebrity mentors Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton pick the new up and coming music sensation, based on nothing but there voice. They cannot see the singer and must choose who they want to mentor without seeing them. This is relevant because they are trying to show that these people will be picked based on their talent and not their looks. This is a novel idea, but the outcome I think will only serve Bordo’s point. By the time the mentors are done working with their talent, I am sure they will be “hollywood ready,” meaning new hair, makeup, clothes, and diets. It is also interesting to note that three out of the four judges are male.

Works Cited

Bordo, Susan. "Unbearable Weight". ed. Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

"NEW NBC "The Voice" Promo." YouTube. Web. 15 May 2011.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We Are Being Watched! - Analysis # 5

            After listening to today’s presentation on postmodernism I feel I have a better understanding. The reading is so dense that it is hard for me to wrap my head around it. It was very helpful to have a clear lecture about this subject.  “Discipline and Punish” was most clear to me because I could think of past and modern examples.  “Monarchial Punishment” I can see being used more in the past when they would hang and lynch people to set an example for everyone. But like we said in class through the examples of “Braveheart” sometimes the punished gets sympathy. I often times feel that way when I watch movies and they are trying to make an example out of someone. It backfires because I feel bad for the person instead of being scared that it could happen to me.
          I see "Disciplinary Punishment" exemplified in my work place. We are left alone in the store, yet we have video cameras so that our bosses can see what were doing at anytime. It is the same idea as the “Panopticon” where we feel we are being watched at any given time and therefore behave our best. 
        Currently I am reading a book called The Hunger Games where the idea of the panopticon is shown. The book is about a society where the government is so scared of the population overthrowing them that every year they hold "hunger games" to show the people just who is in charge. The Hunger Games is a game where two children from each of the twelve districts is sacrificed and put in essentially a cage where they fight until there is only one child remaining. What made me think of the panopticon is because the government is watching the whole time, as if it is a television show. They also have the power to interfere with the games. 

Works Cited

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 10- Marxist Theory

I definitely agree with Andrew Ross’s explanation of the “labor problem” of the arts. There are not enough people that are willing to get paid less for what they love. Instead they get a job that pays more and they do not enjoy. In his first example he explains what he calls the cultural discount.  This is the idea that instead of monetary rewards, the worker receives nonmonetary rewards, like the happiness they get from the work. I see this in celebrities that do charity work. They are not getting paid to go there, but they get nonmonetary rewards. The public gets to see that they are doing a good thing, and in return like them more. While it is not for money, they are still gaining something. Independent films exemplify the cultural discount as well in a more positive light. Many times in independent movies actors are not paid what they are accustomed too. In doing an independent film you are sacrificing money for a project that you believe in.  The cultural discount is apparent in many ways and for me stems from the fact that people cant afford to do things for free just because it is their art. That is a luxury that many Americans cannot live by. It would be great if everyone could do things they love instead of working at jobs they are not passionate about but our society does not make that a priority. The priority is to get a stable job and provide for your family. 

Analysis # 4- Marxist Theory

            Throughout my education I have heard the name Karl Marx but never really knew what he was about.  This weeks reading helped with that. In many ways, Marx’s theory is relevant today. I see him as being realistic, even though what he says can be a little unsettling to someone who wants to be an individual and critiqued by their own merits. In Marx’s world, a person is only worth as much as the product they put out. This sounds harsh, but it’s actually true. Jobs work in this sort of structure, where the people that society views as producing the most get the raises. It is the people at the lower end who don’t get a chance to show their value. Look at Hollywood for instance. Our society is obsessed with celebrities, but what about the people that made them famous. Their agents, writers, make up team. None of them get acknowledged because it is only the celebrity that matters.
            In my American Literature class we have been discussing Karl Marx in relation to Thoreau. We talked about the use value, what people are willing to pay for certain things. The value of an object is based on the amount of time it takes to get it. Thoreau says “but lo men have become the tools of their tools” relates to this idea because it is the idea that you are what you own. In the Communist Manifest Marx talks about class struggles. The lower class is the base because they provide the necessities to enter the superstructure, where the rich take over. The idea of an equal society sounds ideal in theory but is unrealistic.  There is always going to be a hierarchy in our society because that is how we survive. It is unfortunate but true. 

Works Cited

Leitch, Vincent B. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2010. Print.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Group Reflection- Phew it's over!

For our group presentation we did Phenomenology, Reader-Response Theory, and Psychoanalysis. My portion of the presentation focused on Freud and Fetishism. We were originally supposed to present a week earlier, but got pushed back. I was grateful for this because I felt that I wasn't fully comfortable with my topic and wanted more time to perfect it. I was perhaps the most anxious in my group about presenting. I didn’t want to say penis and phallus every other word. But, I did, and actually think my presentation went well. I was second after Stephen whose slide was super fancy, so besides being nervous about saying phallus and penis, I was nervous that my slide looked like a junior high power point.
            Once I started my presentation, my nerves went away. For the most part I actually enjoyed teaching the class about Fetishism. I think the subject matter worked to my advantage because it kept the class interested. I was grateful that the class responded to the questions I asked and the discussion that followed my power point. I
            As far as putting the power point together, Stephan definitely took the reigns. He was the one that contacted all of us through email and made sure everyone was on top of it. I stayed in touch with Stephan through email throughout the weeks to make sure I was on track with everyone else and to see if there was anything else to be done. Stephan also put the power points together, which was an extra job that he happily took on. While our group did not have much interaction prior to our presentation, I think everyone took care of what they needed to do and we gave an informative, interesting presentation. Or so I hope!